Although the artists that designed and put together these creations are relatively unknown, Mosaics themselves continue to be the most famous of Roman art forms. Earliest examples of Roman Mosaics date back to the Republican Period in the 2nd Century BC, while the late Imperial period in 300 AD also produced some notable works.
The mosaics were made using thousands of very small tiles of pottery, stone, shell or glass, and adorned floors and walls in domestic properties or places of worship. Mosaic artists often produced a catalogue of standard designs, though it was always a mark of wealth if a customer could afford something more personal.
These mosaics were either made by artists in ancient Rome, or by Roman artists in other countries in the empire. They often featured historical events, nature, religious figures and battle scenes featuring gladiators. One Roman mosaic which became something of a tourist attraction, depicted a hungry cat eyeing birds drinking from a bird bath. It was made by Sosus who laid the Mosaic in Pergamum at Asaraton Oecon.
Outside Rome, other countries that formed part of the Roman Empire became famous for certain designs and themes, including Britain. Everyday images depicting the weather, crops and trade, frequently made an appearance in British Buildings, while the four seasons, and religious images of Christ were also commissioned.
One of the oldest depictions of Christ, was on display at Hinton Saint Mary Roman Villa, and is now on display with other Roman mosaics at the British Museum. Other notable places to find mosaics include Bignor Roman Villa in West Sussex and Fishbourne Roman Palace also in Sussex. Books on Roman Britain also include illustrations of mosaics found at Rudston Villa near Hull, which depict Chariot Racing, and an image of a Hunter from Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire. There are other examples of Roman mosaics and art on display in buildings and museums across the country. As the floors are for the most part the only survivors of Roman Architecture, these stunning works of art are available as a permanent reminder of one of the most fascinating chapters in ancient history.